The Eyes of My Mother
the eyes of my mother | nicolas pesce | kika magalhaes | will brill | olivia bond | isolated | isolation | kidnap | drama | united states | joey curtis-green | flora diaz | paul nazak | tahir shah | clara wong
Film: The Eyes of My Mother
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Writioner: Nicolas Pesce
Starring: Kika Magalhães, Will Brill and Olivia Bond
This film I heard about through podcasts I listen to. I saw the writer/director Nicolas Pesce next film before checking this one out, so I was intrigued to see what this one had to offered as I did enjoy that movie. I’m now giving it a second viewing as part of the Summer Series for the Podcast Under the Stairs as this came up on the 2016 list. To get into my review, the synopsis is a young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.
We kick this film off with a woman walking in the road. A semi is approaching and honks at her. She just falls to the ground while the driver gets out to check on her. It is then told in three chapters as it shifts to a young girl, Francisca (Olivia Bond), with her mother, Diana Agostini. Her mother was a surgeon back in Portugal. She has given up that life to live out in the country with her husband and daughter. She is teaching Francisca medical things with some of their cows as well as procedures. Their world turns upside down though when Charlie (Will Brill) shows up at their farm. Francisca’s father, Paul Nazak, comes home and Charlie has killed his wife. The father knocks him out.
This is where things get a little bit odd. The father chains up Charlie in the barn and they bury the mother in the woods by their house. They just carry on like life is normal. One night, Charlie is yelling and father tells his daughter to take care of it. She does and not in a way that I was expecting.
It then jumps some time into the future. Francisca has grown up to be Kika Magalhães. Her father has passed away, but she still is keeping him in the house. She carries on like nothing happened. She does break down though and is lonely. She tries to find a companion to help make her a new family, which takes some even darker turns.
Now I definitely wanted to go somewhat vague with this recap, as to not spoil things. This film though is quite basic in the story. There aren’t a lot of parts to it. There are a few things that carry this movie. The first of which is the location. This is quite interesting as I grew up in the country. It can be eerily quiet, so things that happen in this could without anyone knowing. Going even farther, I feel like the world moved on while Francisca kind of stayed the same. The house isn’t modern and their vehicle isn’t either. We don’t really know when this film is taking place, which adds to this somewhat surreal feeling that is timeless.
Something else is that this film has good writing. What gets established early on is referenced back to later. I’m a big fan when this is done; because I get sucked in by stories, so I like to know paying attention to all the little details comes back for a payoff. With saying that, I wonder if this young girl is really the daughter of these two. They seem quite a bit older than normal parents’ age which makes me wonder, but also with something that happens in the film. Going from this, they don’t call the police which would explain why as well. They do some things that normal people wouldn’t and they are committing crimes to cover things up.
Going from there, the feeling of growing dread is something that I dug. The movie is a slow burn, which is quite interesting since it runs less than 80 minutes. The dread that grows as you see this life that Francisca is living. What she learns as a child and that her parents taught her making her into what she is. When you see what she does to Charlie and to others it is not only sad, but quite horrific.
What also drives this film is the acting. I have to give credit to Magalhães. She has to play a character that is completely devoid of normal human emotions. A lot of this is the isolation that she grew up in. I can’t say that she is insane, because to be honest, she doesn’t seem to know right from wrong. Agostini is interesting in her small role as the mother that tries to teach her daughter things. Nazak is cold toward her and some of things he teachers her take her on a different route. Credit also to Brill and the horrific act he commits to create some of the issues. I thought the rest of the characters rounded out the film for what was needed.
On to the effects, which seem to be practical and I was for that. There aren’t used to be honest, but the blood we get definitely looked good. I should point out that the film is filmed in black and white, which is definitely an interesting stylistic choice that I dug. With her living where she does, I think it adds to that for sure. There is a reveal of what happens to someone that made me go numb with the realism of what was done. I should end this here saying that the film is shot beautifully as well.
The soundtrack of the film was interesting. There is a song playing in the first scene that caught my roommate’s attention as the song is about a family that was murdered by their father. There are also some old movies that are being played where we get to hear some dialogue. I bring this up as I know they were strategically put in because it goes along with what is happening in the film. Something that caught my attention here with a second viewing is that despite all of the years going back, she is watching the same movies which helps with the timeless feel as well as that she hasn’t moved on. I would say that the use of sound and music was solid in this one.
Now to wrap this up, I do have to say that I enjoyed this movie. I will admit that the story is lacking a bit. It is quite basic, but for a film like this, it didn’t need to be more complex. The acting and the pacing of the film drives it. It built tension in a slower way, but I thought the payoff was good. The effects we got were good and the film was shot beautifully. The soundtrack was good and that is not only with music, but with dialogue from other films as well. I do think this film has some minor issues, but I really liked it and would recommend giving it a viewing. I thought it was good. I will warn you, this movie is quite bleak so keep that in mind coming in.
My Rating: 8 out of 10